Do you let your dog play in the house?

When my dog was younger, I did not allow him to play indoors.

The main reason for this was because I wanted him to be calm in my apartment. I want my living space to be relaxing, which means no running, chasing, barking, etc.

Ace also has an extreme retrieving obsession and will fixate on any type of toy, expecting the nearest person to throw it.

When he was younger, it was just easier to keep all his tennis balls and squeaky toys put away. I would bring them out for maybe five minutes or so here and there for play initiated by me.

And we also played outside. A lot. Every day.

We played chasing games, fetch, tug, hide and seek, you name it.

Indoors, Ace had his chew toys, and those were for chewing, not playing. Each day I would rotate which one or two chew toys he would get, like a Nylabone, a Kong, a raw hide, etc.

My dog plays indoors now that he’s older

My black lab mix Ace with his tennis ball

Now that my dog is older (8), we do play indoors a fair amount. He has his basket of toys in the corner of the room, and a few times each day he’ll walk over, select one and present it to me for tossing.

We do play a little low-key fetch in our apartment, and we play some pretty serious tug of war and wrestling games.

Why the change?

Mostly, it’s my dog’s age. I can only throw his ball for him about three times outside before he gets really sore. And now that we’re living in a more urban area, there are fewer places where it’s safe for him to play off leash.

We make up for this by playing indoors.

I still have an extremely calm living environment compared to everyone else I know, but we definitely play a lot more indoors than we used to.

Do you let your dogs play in the house?

You may think this was an odd topic to bring up. It seems like most people allow their dogs to run, play, wrestle and tumble in the house, especially if they have two or three dogs.

When blog reader Rachel from My Two Pitties left a comment on this post the other day that she trained her dogs not to play in the house, I realized I had done the same with Ace.

Now that we’re seriously thinking about adding a second dog to our home, this is a topic I’m thinking about again. We are leaning towards adopting a younger dog, which makes these types of rules even more important.

I think dogs need to learn when they can and can’t play, and as long as they are given plenty of exercise, training, interaction and love throughout each day, they can learn to be calm while in the house.

That’s just my approach. I know everyone sets their own rules and has their own opinions.

Let me know your thoughts.

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17 thoughts on “Do you let your dog play in the house?”

  1. I think it definitely depends on the size and temperament (play personality, for lack of a better term) of the dog. We’ve always played inside the house and it’s nice to be able to do that when the weather is bad. Luckily, nothing has been broken yet, because I’m terrible at throwing with accuracy, haha. I think there are always play games that can work inside the house (like tug-of-war), unless a dog gets extremely worked up or intense when playing.

  2. We let Rufus play in the house, but I could totally understand limiting it if you have a mega-obsessed retriever! Luckily Rufus likes to play tug or wrestle with a foster for short bursts and then he’s over it, haha. He definitely prefers to play outdoors anyway, so it’s a win-win!

  3. My dogs are dainty so we don’t make a big mess playing inside and it seldom rains and never snows here. And yes, playing inside is something we do often.

  4. It depends on the kind of play really. We do get kind of wild sometimes and then Mom says take it outside and we race to the door and continue in the yard, but some light wrestling is allowed or tug a war, toy toss, stuff like that. No chase, though.

  5. I never really thought about it…When we had Sally, our puppy – we played with her in the house all the time. But I’ll be honest, most of our dogs don’t play WITH each other. Sally & Tino did on occasion…if Sally was really bored, but other than that they don’t play with each other. So it’s not by design, but our dogs don’t play in the house.

  6. I don’t think there’s anything wrong either way – just depends on how the humans expect and like their dogs to behave indoors. The only problem would is when there’s not clear communication to the dog on what’s acceptable just like training them to stay off furniture. I play with Laika indoors quite a bit in the winter since it’s dark by the time I get home from work. We go out a couple times for walks during the winter but the majority of our playtime during the week is all indoors. I did get a glow in the dark ball recently and it’s quite awesome at night. But yeah I play tug and wrestle with Laika in our dining room/great room all the time since it’s pretty roomy.

  7. Well I was about to answer but you did that for me! lol I agree with the other commenters. If it was just Norman in the house I would probably play with him & have some toys lying around. He’s low key & settles easily. But Kaya is very eager & excitable as well as fetch obsessed like Ace. It would never end! She’d also chew all her tennis balls into tiny pieces.

    Plus they’re big dogs & they play rough so to me it would just feel like total chaos having them wrestle inside. Kaya’s go to move when she’s super excited that a new person is around is to show off all her best “I can get Norman to play with me” moves. People never believe me when I say she was just snoring on her back before they walked in:/

    It all sounds pretty boring but we do go out for about an hour a day off leash, they have access to the yard nearly all day since I work from home, we almost always have awesome weather and they have their chews lying around so there’s always something to do.

  8. No playing upstairs, but we have a large, unfinished basement where we can toss the ball, they chase after Dad on his bicycle (yes, it’s big), etc., if the weather is bad.

  9. With me it’s always question of safety. So the short answer is yes, but only in moderation so nobody (the dogs) gets hurt.

    Mostly, the guys are not much interested in playing in the house. When they get really playful, I know I didn’t give them enough exercise outside.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yep, that’s how it is for me too. If Ace is getting really playful, I know I haven’t exercised him enough outside.

  10. We allow tug of war and a little fetch but otherwise, playing is for outside. With hard wood floors I really don’t like fetch in the house, but a little tug of war is fine. We did not allow humping in the house when we had Belle, but D.O.G. is a little big to do it to Missy and she’s tried to do it to us but a firm no and shaking her off has stopped that habit.

    I think it truely depends on you as a dog owner. And its ok for some things and not for others. And especially make sure its not ok with company coming over, that could be disasterous! 🙂 But would make a great story!

  11. Our dogs get to play in the house. They aren’t as rough as they are when they’re outside. They don’t run, but they do have a good time and we have a home that is perfect for dogs so it works for us 🙂

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